3B's Research Group, I3Bs-Research Institute on Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics, University of Minho, Headquarters of the European Institute of Excellence on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, AvePark, Parque de Ciência e Tecnologia, Zona Industrial da Gandra, 4805-017 Barco, Guimarães, Portugal. [Email]
Tendon tissues have limited healing capacity. The incidence of tendon injuries and the unsatisfactory functional outcomes of tendon repair are driving the search for alternative therapeutic approaches envisioning tendon regeneration. Cellular therapies aim at delivering adequate, regeneration-competent cell types to the injured tendon and toward ultimately promoting its reconstruction and recovery of functionality. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) either obtained from tendons or from non-tendon sources, like bone marrow (BM-MSCs) or adipose tissue (ASCs), have been receiving increasing attention over the years toward enhancing tendon healing. Evidences from in vitro and in vivo studies suggest MSCs can contribute to accelerate and improve the quality of tendon healing. Nonetheless, the exact mechanisms underlying these repair events are yet to be fully elucidated. This review provides an overview of the main challenges in the field of cell-based regenerative therapies, discussing the role of MSCs in boosting tendon regeneration, particularly through their capacity to enhance the tenogenic properties of tendon resident cells.